TED Conversations

Kevin Parcell

TEDCRED 30+

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Will the shift in power to the interconnectedness of the net mean positive change?

Not so long ago, boards such as these offered the choice of both negative and positive ratings for comments, but the negative option has often been discarded because it is found to encourage negative discourse. I've noticed since that change here at TED that there seems to be a growing prevalence of positive ratings for negative comments. What might such a trend tell us about what the future holds as power shifts horizontally to the net?

Another example might be Ron Paul basing his U.S. Presidential run on an internet campaign centered on negativity. And another might be the Occupy Movement, which grew out of this interconnectedness but has failed to accomplish much in the way of positive results, and that perhaps because it arose out of an iconoclastic narrative. In all these cases, I think there's an imbalance of expression in favor of that which tends to revel in rhetoric for the purpose of elevating dissent. Not that there's anything wrong with expressing dissent, but what happens when dissent becomes its own reason? How is that different than mob rule?

Will the shift in power to the interconnectedness of the net mean positive change? The perseverance of negative rhetoric online, especially its growing power in global politics and its persistence in even the most positive forums, such as TED, makes me wonder if we will see crowd accelerated innovation prevail over mob accelerated devolution. In hard economic times, history warns us to watch out for despotism, and the majority can empower despots, or be as good a despot as any itself, when led by mob reason.

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    Jan 10 2012: I think that the difference between earlier times and now is that earlier masses where mobilized by a few people with selfish intent. Now, the interconnectedness of the internet is providing a platform for a bilateral dialogue which is helping in evolving a collective consciousness. This collective consciousness has the power of bringing in massive and fundamental change and the positive or negative becomes irrelevant because it is the change desired by the collective.
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      Jan 10 2012: Randhir, I see your point about the irrelevance in the sense that whatever the outcome it serves the greatest number if we have collective consciousness. And I think it's a good point, although I'm not sure that the greatest good for the greatest number is always the best measure. Sometimes the majority can be a tyrant, and also that consciousness might not include input from other sentient creatures, to mention two frequent objections to the collective will of an imperfect majority.

      I wonder also if you mean that the net is somehow contributing to the evolution of a true collective consciousness, or if instead you mean that the net is growing to finally serve as a collective consciousness. I don't know that the first assertion can be justified by evidence, although it might be true, and if true then perhaps it still faces objections such as I've mentioned. And the second I find troubling because there have been so many examples of a minority using the net to impose their unwelcome aims on others. Even if the majority of humanity is online all the time, does that mean they are protected from that kind of exploitation?
  • Jan 7 2012: Yes, I believe the interconnectedness of the internet means positive change. I suppose I assume that humanity is essentially positive and the internet communications.......such as this one.......will reveal that. Through the internet we can work co-creatively, cooperatively to accomplish all of our positive goals. That will result in the elevation of the joy level of living and future humanity throughout Earth and throughout all universes ultimately. POWER TO THE POSITIVE!
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      Jan 7 2012: Thanks Rhona. I think your reply illustrates walking your talk.
      • Jan 8 2012: You are welcome. Thank you. HAPPY TODAY.